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Aśvamedha

Aśvamedha. A Hindu, Vedic, ritual of horse-sacrifice. It was performed by kings as a symbolic representation of their supreme power and authority, as well as, sometimes, for such boons as the birth of a son to ensure succession. For one year the chosen horse might wander as he pleased, unmolested and protected by an armed guard. Should he trespass into another kingdom, its ruler would have to give battle or submit. At the end of the year the horse was brought back to the capital with due ceremony, and sacrificed along with other animals. The fertility element of the ceremony is evident from the way in which, symbolically, the senior queen would lie beside the dead horse. Jaya Siṉha II of Jaipur was the last prince to perform this sacrifice, in the 18th cent.

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